The new gTLD rollout is now well underway and the new domain names have many businesses are closer to seeing new domain names go live. Following the launches of particular strings, we have started to see the first examples of successful and unsuccessful gTLD strategies. What can we learn from the past few months about the threats and opportunities posed by new gTLDs?
Doing Nothing Will Cost You
We have long been stressing the importance of a defensive gTLD strategy. The new domain endings have opened up a new front in the battle against cyber squatters but despite the warnings, many brands have chosen not to act, leaving their trademarks vulnerable. Domain name hijackers have already sprung into action and technology giant IBM was the first organization to file a cybersquatting case against a new gTLD domain.
On February 5, IBM submitted a complaint about two domains: ibm.venture and ibm.guru to the Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) system. The URS has been designed to resolve clear-cut cases of trademark infringement and is quick and effective at suspending disputed domains. The registrant is estimated to have spent $2,500 on the two addresses and the evidence suggests that it was a deliberate attempt to exploit IBM – both domains even redirected to ibm.com.
Fortunately, IBM had registered its trademark in the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) and was able to action with the URS system, which at under $500, is relatively inexpensive. Had IBM not registered in the TMCH, it would have incurred significant costs to take control of the domains. Two Uniform Domain-Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) cases come at a considerably higher cost than a TMCH registration and Sunrise application or domain blocking via a Domain Protected Marks List (DPML), which prevents the names being re-registered when they expire.
It’s safe to say that some of the first new gTLD strings are starting to capture the attention of proactive global brands. For example, .company already seems to be gaining traction with some of the world’s most respected organizations. .Company has seen about three times the level of activity in its Sunrise period than the average TLD, with registrations from the likes of Citibank, Johnson and Johnson, Lego, Peugeot, Chevron, Cisco, Harley Davidson, Pizza Hut and Visa.
We also expect a sizeable number of global players to take action on the .reviews TLD. Online review websites have dramatically altered the way many service-based businesses operate, particularly in the travel and hospitality sectors. Take TripAdvisor for example, one of the best respected and also most ‘feared’ opinion sites. More than 200 million unique users visit TripAdvisor every month to read the 100 million plus reviews published, which have the capacity to make or break a hotel or restaurant businesses. Online reviews are difficult to police and brands are unable to verify the authenticity of individual reviewers. The new .review TLD offers companies the chance to build their own opinion platform, where they can monitor customer feedback and use it to their advantage. Generic domains such as hotel.reviews will probably be available, which could be a very powerful tool for one brand to own.
Ultimately, many brands still do not have any strategy in place. Examples such as IBM and .companies prove that sooner or later, organizations will have to act. Take control by formulating a defensive or proactive strategy today. Request a call back from a NetNames specialist here.